In virtually every company I've worked for during the past 18–20 years, I've had the privilege of working with the C-Suite and had direct contact with the CEO, COO, and CFO. I've had to figure them out to discover ways to connect with them. After learning this, I have had to figure out how to best manage them. By this I mean, manage their expectations and the politics of just doing my job. Some of these CEOs "Get it;" others never will.
From my experience as someone who's both received and given promotions, here are five things that will help you climb as high as your talents will take you:
Be a Problem Solver: The best leaders look for opportunities to apply their talents and make a difference. Make a habit of anticipating, identifying and solving problems. When you have ideas about how to do something smarter, better, or more efficiently, speak up! Your boss might not take you up on every suggestion, but your efforts won't go unnoticed. It shows that you are proactive and engaged—indispensable leadership qualities.
Say Yes to Stretch Assignments: Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way— even if it seems like a reach. There's no better way to grow professionally than by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. By the time I became CEO, I had worked in four of our company's five businesses, held 19 different leadership positions, and moved my family eight times for new assignments. The more challenges you master, the more opportunities you'll receive.
Show How Your Work Drives Business Results: Results matter—so when you're doing great work, make sure you keep track of the evidence. Showing your leadership how you've increased revenue, decreased costs, improved operations, or won customer accolades makes your value to the organization clear and tangible. This isn't bragging or self-promotion; it's demonstrating that you understand your organization's objectives and are working hard to advance them. If you do, you'll have a decisive edge when promotion time comes around.